Dormant Taiwan Defense Market Heats Up
By Wendell Minnick
TAIPEI — When the United States released a $6.5 billion arms package to Taiwan last October, it rejuvenated the self-governing island as a defense market after a decade-long slump.
The new energy was on display here at the 10th Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), held from Aug. 1316, where U.S. companies once again vied to win Taiwanese contracts and sign up new suppliers.
A typhoon that killed an estimated 500 people on the island forced the cancellation of the scheduled flight demonstrations. Still, business went on at a pace not recently seen here.
For example, Pratt & Whitney agreed to pay state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) $60 million over seven years to make engine cases for the F100-PW-229 engine that powers F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.
“AIDC has attained status as a qualified supplier for the F100 engine case by successfully passing Pratt & Whitney’s evaluation of quality, cost and delivery,” said a representative from the U.S. firm.
AIDC also is in discussions with the Taiwan Air Force to upgrade two wings of Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) F-CK-1A/B aircraft. AIDC spokesperson Mike S.C. Lee said the Air Force is no longer interested in the IDF-II C/D Goshawk program and prefers to upgrade around 60 aircraft.
“There is a possibility of a decision this year. It will have the same engine and structure, but will get an upgrade to the multimission computer, radar and avionics,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Raytheon said it is in discussions with AIDC to upgrade the IDF’s electronic warfare system.
In a surprise move, the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) showed off the Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile and Tien Kung-3 (Sky Bow) air defense missile, only the second time the military has displayed the two missiles to the public.
CSIST officials also exhibited a sounding rocket, which they said was developed for scientific experiments with the satellite-building National Space Program Office. But a Taiwan defense analyst said the rocket is a cover program for ballistic missile development.
CSIST displayed a wide variety of UAVs, including for the first time one of five Chung Shyang operational prototypes.
“The Army and Air Force are interested in the Chung Shyang,” an institute representative said. “With the recent typhoon, the Army could have conducted a damage assessment, but the Army has no UAV capability at this time. We expect a decision from the military in 2010, with a potential order of 20.”
■ At a Northrop Grumman-sponsored conference on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and network-centric battle management applications, Dan Leaf, vice president for strategic initiatives, suggested that Taiwan acquire UAVs; buy electronic surveillance gear, especially mobile equipment; and improve its early-warning capabilities against Chinese ballistic missile threats.
■ A Spartan L-3 Communications representative said the company is pitching six C27J Spartan airlift planes, along with an indigenous training and maintenance package, to replace the Taiwanese Air Force’s Fokker 50 VIP aircraft.
In July, L-3 sent price and availability data to U.S. officials, who will discuss the proposal with their Taiwanese counterparts in September. “The U.S. government is committed to selling them to Taiwan,” the L-3 representative said. “Now it’s up to the Taiwan government to make a final decision on the C-27J.”
■ Paul Laliberte, vice president for Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector, said the company was “highlighting the latest F-16 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), AN/AAQ-28 Litening AT Targeting Pods, Longbow fire control radar for the Apache helicopters, APR-39 missile warning system, as well as Sperry Marine gyros and navigation systems at this year’s show.”
■ Lockheed Martin was promoting the Direct Attack Guided Rocket under development for Taiwan’s Apache attack helicopters.
Raytheon pitched a wide array of systems for Taiwan’s coming upgrade of F-16A and F-16B fighters, and the F-16Cs and Ds that Taiwan hopes to receive U.S. permission to buy. The systems included the Advanced Combat Radar, AN/ALR69A(V) Radar Warning Receiver, PAWS-2 infrared missile warning system, and the advanced countermeasures electronic system early warning suite.
ITT also is vying to supply the F16A/B electronic warfare upgrade and the EW package for the C/D aircraft, Vice President John Freund said. ITT has sold communications and recon systems to Taiwan’s military for more than a decade.
“We have been delivering the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System for Taiwan’s Avengers and Patriot PAC-2s via the Foreign Military Sales program for many years now,” he said. “We are also going to get involved in the Apaches and UH60M helicopters.”
Lockheed and Raytheon are competing to upgrade Taiwan’s Dutchbuilt Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) diesel submarines. Last year, U.S. officials granted approval to sell 32 UGM-84 Harpoon Block II sub-launched missiles; now, Taiwan is awaiting the release of M48 torpedoes.
Duane Baker, a Lockheed business development executive, said his firm is “looking at incorporating the torpedo into the Hai Lung submarines.” He said Lockheed expects to win the contract to upgrade the subs’ combat systems.
“Taiwan’s legislature is working on the budget, and there could be a funding line for 2010 with a 2011 program execution,” Baker said.
But Raytheon’s Taiwan country manager, Brad Gerdes, said Lockheed will see serious competition.
“If Taiwan goes forward on the indigenous build program for new submarines, Raytheon wants to provide the combat system and nonpropulsion electronics system.”